Prince Charles addresses soldiers at top-secret US spy base RAF Menwith


The Prince of Wales thanked secret service staff on both sides of the Atlantic for their work as he visited the top-secret US spy base RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire today. 

Prince Charles, 71, travelled to the communications and intelligence site near Harrogate, which for the last 60 years has been used by personnel from the US National Security Agency (NSA), as well as staff from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).  

Looking as dapper as ever in a coffee-coloured coat, the beaming royal refused to let a little shower dampen his spirits and sheltered from the rain under a large umbrella as he inspected the troops.

Prince Charles (pictured) visited RAF Menwith earlier today in North Yorkshire and inspected the troops at the base

Standing under a large umbrella, the Prince of Wales (pictured left) addressed the staff and met with workers

Standing under a large umbrella, the Prince of Wales (pictured left) addressed the staff and met with workers

Soldiers stand to attention while on parade during the Prince of Wales's visit to RAF Menwith

Soldiers stand to attention while on parade during the Prince of Wales’s visit to RAF Menwith 

The prince, who is Colonel in Chief of the British Army's cavalry regiment, also received a tour of the operations centre and was given a briefing on the station's history, mission and partnerships

The prince, who is Colonel in Chief of the British Army’s cavalry regiment, also received a tour of the operations centre and was given a briefing on the station’s history, mission and partnerships

Charles is the patron of the Intelligence Agencies and he addressed the staff and met workers to recognise how important the work they do is. 

Additionally, the prince, who is Colonel in Chief of the British Army’s cavalry regiment, also received a tour of the operations centre and was given a briefing on the station’s history, mission and partnerships. 

During his day trip to North Yorkshire, Charles also met with soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards at Catterick Garrison. 

Speaking after the prince’s visit, the Commanding Officer at RAF Menwith Hill Squadron Leader Geoff Dickson, said: ‘The delight on the faces of our employees reflects the honour we all feel in seeing His Royal Highness come to RAF Menwith Hill to see first hand the work that we do, particularly in the year in which we are commemorating 60 years of operations.’

Prince Charles personally signed the Royal Dragoons Guards Orders before leaving Alma Lines in Catterick Garrison

Prince Charles personally signed the Royal Dragoons Guards Orders before leaving Alma Lines in Catterick Garrison

Prince Charles stands beneath an umbrella and beams as he talks with one of the soldiers on parade earlier today

Prince Charles stands beneath an umbrella and beams as he talks with one of the soldiers on parade earlier today

A line of soldiers stand before the Prince of Wales during his visit to RAF Menwith. The royal looked as dapper as ever in a coffee-coloured coat

A line of soldiers stand before the Prince of Wales during his visit to RAF Menwith. The royal looked as dapper as ever in a coffee-coloured coat

The Prince of Wales, who is the Colonel in Chief of the British Army's cavalry regiment, spoke with multiple members of personnel during his visit

The Prince of Wales, who is the Colonel in Chief of the British Army’s cavalry regiment, spoke with multiple members of personnel during his visit

Charles explored the newly dedicated Serenity Park community space, which was built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of operations at the site in September this year.

RAF Menwith Hill is known for its giant radomes which are large white weatherproof globe structures nicknamed ‘the golf balls’ because of their white, dimpled appearance. They were designed to shield and protect radar equipment.

Established in 1954, RAF Menwith acts as a ‘communication intercept and intelligence support service’ for both the UK and US. 

Although the site is owned by the Ministry of Defence, the land is made available to the US Department of Defence under the Nato Status of Forces Agreement 1951.  

The base’s operations and location have frequently attracted controversy, with protesters objecting to the nature of its work and the presence of international military personnel. 

Prince Charles explored the newly dedicated Serenity Park community space, which was built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of operations at the site in September this year. Pictured, soldiers on parade

Prince Charles explored the newly dedicated Serenity Park community space, which was built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of operations at the site in September this year. Pictured, soldiers on parade

RAF Menwith Hill is known for its giant radomes which are large white weatherproof globe structures (pictured) nicknamed 'the golf balls' because of their white, dimpled appearance

RAF Menwith Hill is known for its giant radomes which are large white weatherproof globe structures (pictured) nicknamed ‘the golf balls’ because of their white, dimpled appearance

RAF Menwith was established in 1954 to act as a 'communication intercept and intelligence support service' for both the UK and US. Pictured, Prince Charles talks to staff

RAF Menwith was established in 1954 to act as a ‘communication intercept and intelligence support service’ for both the UK and US. Pictured, Prince Charles talks to staff

Protesters have previously objected to the nature of its work and the presence of international military personnel. Pictured, Prince Charles inspects the troops

Protesters have previously objected to the nature of its work and the presence of international military personnel. Pictured, Prince Charles inspects the troops

No external photographers or reporters were invited to cover the visit, although social distancing arrangements have reduced the number of press covering royal engagements in person in recent months. 

The prince’s visit comes as the Guards prepare to leave Catterick Garrison after 12 years to move to Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster next month.

Lieutenant Colonel Dom Davey, Commanding Officer of the RDG, said: ‘We are extremely honoured that our Colonel in Chief has the opportunity to meet with some of his Dragoons, particularly during this challenging time for us all.

‘As a family regiment we have rallied round and supported each other as we prepare for our move south to Warminster.

‘Having spent 12 years in North Yorkshire we are sad to leave, but our new home holds so many special opportunities with the impending arrival of Ajax. As Yorkshire and Ireland’s Cavalry, the Royal Dragoon Guards will never truly leave North Yorkshire.’

Ajax is the Army’s new multi-role, fully-digitised armoured fighting vehicle.

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